Monday, May 29, 2006

Run, Run, Run!

Boy, it's even getting tough finding a moment to write a few notes in my blog, and that's something I really enjoy. I guess it figures, though, considering that I often find myself not having enough time to eat a meal. Thank goodness trail mix doesn't melt in the car - it's truly kept me going more than once this week.

Both girls are doing fabulously well! Breanna has adjusted nicely to life at home, and is so very good! She wakes me at night when she's hungry by smacking her lips and making little grunting noises. No screaming - yay! Good thing I'm such a light sleeper - or maybe her little noises would eventually turn to hollering. She seems to be getting bigger - and cuter than ever.

She had a big day on Saturday. We broke the germ restriction rule and took her to Mass in the evening and wouldn't you know, the Bishop was there performing services. When I went up for communion, I had Breanna in my arms, and she received a special blessing from the Bishop. How exciting! We knew we'd have to sheild her from any grabby grandmas, but thankfully, no one came close except for when we walked up in the communion line. It felt great to be there - it seems like forever since we've been able to go to church.

We gave her her first "real" bath in the tub the other night, and while she freaked out a little the first time her feet touched the water, she quickly settled right down and seemed to enjoy herself after that. And then she smelled sooooo good! Here's a photo of our clean girl.

Lillian is getting bigger and bigger, and it's wonderful to see her grow. She's been eating more and more each day and putting on the weight. By the time I go in to see her tomorrow, she should be in the big girl crib for the first time. Keep your fingers crossed that she maintains her temperature out in the real world. We might even get her home by the end of the week. Imagine that!

Please keep both girls in your prayers and we'll continue to pray for our family and friends. Blessings to you all!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Growing Girls

Well, like I said before, let the blur begin. Life with Breanna at home is terrific! She's just beautiful and so very good. Maddy and Tootsie just love her and their tails haven't stopped wagging. They get right up close and smell her and enjoy her little noises and movements. And when we move her, the dogs don't let her out of sight. Maddy seems very protective of Breanna already.

Our first night was kind of hectic - we had lots of adjustments to make. But last night went really well. And I don't feel too tired, so that's a bonus.

Lillian is continuing to do very well. She continues to gain weight at a steady rate - she's now a whopping 3 lbs., 8 oz.! Soon she'll try out a big-girl crib and see how she does with maintaining her temperature. The only thing holding her back from coming home is some weight, so that's great!

It's hard to come and go so much - and make sure everything is taken care of on the Breanna side of my life before I head to the NICU. In a way, I'm very glad that Lillian is still in the hospital, being monitored while she's still so little. On the other hand, though, I feel sorry for her being all by herself. Of course, the doctors and nurses are WONDERFUL - very loving and caring, as well as smart and experienced. But still, not having her sister right next door - I just have to wonder if she can feel that absence.

I'm looking forward to the weekend ahead. I have a feeling we'll have some visitors up to the hospital and to our house, and that will be fun.

Have a terrific Memorial Day weekend, friends, and remember to find a little time to honor the lives of loved ones who've passed away.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Blur

Where has the month gone? I looked at the calendar in the NICU this morning and nearly fell over. Our lives have changed so significantly so quickly!

This week in particular, life is getting really crazy. DW and I are going to room in here at the hospital tonight so we can try out a night with Breanna in a private room. It will kind of be like having her at home, but with the security of having a full nursing staff available in case we need something or have questions.

Tomorrow morning, Breanna will be discharged. Wahoo! And then, let the chaos begin. I'll still need to come up to nurse Lillian three times a day, but won't be able to bring Breanna back into the NICU. So, thankfully, my sister and my mom will help me out with scheduling. My sister will be here on Thursday to come up to the hospital with us. I'll be able to nurse Breanna in a private room, then leave her with my sister in the waiting room while I go in to nurse Lillian. Then on Friday, I'll have my mom here. DW will be able to handle an evening feeding and weekends, and then next week my mom will be here.

Breanna weighed in at 5 lbs., 1.5 oz. last night and is really doing great!

Lillian is doing terrific, too, and will probably be able to come home in 10-15 days, depending on how chubby we can get her. She's at 3 lbs., 6 oz. now, and it's amazing to see the difference as she is gaining.

In the midst of all this, I've been trying to get outside to enjoy a little of this fresh air, but alas, the only air I've been getting has been on my trips to and from the hospital with the windows down. Oh well, summer will soon be here and both babies will be home and the blur will be a totally different kind of chaos. I can hardly wait!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Breanna's Big News

Great news from our NICU doctors: Breanna is going to try to go to the big-girl crib again today. If she can maintain her body temp and continue to gain weight, they'll be able to send her home with us next week sometime. Wahoo! We're aiming for weight gain of at least an ounce a day for each of the girls.

Lillian is also doing great, but she's still small. They don't want to send her home until she's close to 4 lbs., which should be about two more weeks or so. She's now 3 lb., 3 oz. and looking cute as ever.

I'm especially excited to see how things go in these next couple of days.

Tonight is the "members only" shopping night for our local Mothers of Multiples annual garage sale. For the first time in my life, I'm anxious to go to a garage sale. Must mean I've officially become a mom.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Has Spring Finally Sprung?

It's another beautiful spring day - the rain has finally stopped - and the birds are chirping like crazy outside. I figured I'd better take a quick moment to write before my day gets going into its usual chaotic form.

I'll be heading up to the hospital to nurse at 11:30 and then the cycle begins. I really enjoy spending the time with my girls, bonding, warming, getting to know them. I just wish the hospital was a little closer. I feel like I'm either up there or in the car going back and forth.

Everyone is still doing well. Breanna is going to try out a big-girl crib again today and we'll see how she does with maintaining her body temp. We're crossing our fingers. That will be a significant step to getting her home. Lillian is eating more and more and is bound to start keeping some of that weight on soon. I'm tuckered out just a little, but doing really well. And DW, well, he's silly as ever. We had a very fun visit to the NICU last night. As my figure is quickly coming back, he's like a schoolboy with a new crush. And it feels great to be looking like a girl again, and getting the attention of being a girl.

We're heading to DW's hometown tonight for an open house for his dad, who's retiring after 30 years of teaching. I look forward to getting out for a little socialization. As much as I truly enjoy the company of the NICU nurses, I do miss being around real people outside of the hospital setting. Unfortunately, since my schedule is so broken up for feedings, I can't really schedule more than an hour here or there. Oh well, someday...

Here's a cute picture of my mom holding Lillian, all wrapped in the quilt Mom made for her. It's from this weekend. Kind of puts Lill's teeniness into perspective, doesn't it?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Loving Motherhood

After a long weekend of social visits and baby room prep mixed in with many, many trips to see the babies, I'm a little glad we've hit Monday. And what a wonderful Monday it is!

I realize I haven't posted in a while, so here's the quick update on the babies before we go any further. Both girls are doing great still! Lillian is nursing three times a day and is gaining weight nicely. She weighed in at 3 lb. 1 oz. today. Here's a recent picture.

Breanna is nursing twice/three times a day and is maintaining her weight. She tried out the big-girl cribs yesterday for a few hours, just to test to see how she does at maintaining her body temp. She got a little cool, so back into the isolette she went. The nurses will test her out again tomorrow. Her picture is below. I'm not sure if you can see it, but they're starting to look more and more alike each day.

I have a feeling that the nurse who said the girls would probably go home this week was most likely a little aggressive in her positive outlook. While Breanna will probably come home first, and maybe this week, Lillian still has a lot more weight to gain. So, we'll just wait and see.

My first Mother's Day was amazing. It started at 2 am when I woke up and found a photo Mother's Day card in the kitchen from my girls. (I suspect their Daddy had something to do with that.) I spent many hours with the girls and my DW and a few hours with my mom before she went home, too. DW's folks stopped by in the evening on their way home from Lake of the Woods, and wouldn't you know, they had some fresh walleye to share. We had a fabulous dinner and then a trip to the NICU to wind down the night. Wonderful all the way around. The wonderful emotions that come with motherhood are so tough to describe - the gist is that I love being a mom!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Happy Girls

It's hard to believe our girls are already more than a week old! What a blur!

We're all still doing great. Poor Dad has a bit of a cold, though, so he didn't get to go see Breanna and Lillian last night.

Lillian is now nursing twice a day, and Breanna should be ready to start nursing soon. Both girls have been showing their sweet demeanors already - they smile and laugh A LOT. They both especially respond to their silly dad, which doesn't surprise me one bit. All kids seem to connect with him and smile a lot.

I finally held Breanna yesterday for the first time, and boy, that was awesome! She feels SO heavy compared to Lillian.

There was quite a baby boom yesterday, so Lillian's quarters were moved over so she's right next to her sis now. Before, there was an empty space in between. When we close the curtains to nurse, it feels like we're in a luxury suite. Well, a little bit, anyway.

When I was talking with one of the nurses yesterday, she mentioned that she had a long weekend off and wouldn't be back until next Wednesday. Then she said the big news - she figured that she'd be back just in time to help pack up our girls and send them home. Already!?! Wow- how wonderful! That Lillian needs to bulk up, though. She still hasn't hit 3 pounds and there's no way I'm taking her home when she's this small.

My mom is coming to visit today - is probably within a few miles of our house right now. We're planning to visit the girls, of course, but then also work on preparing their bedroom. We'll go paint shopping and maybe fabric shopping for curtains. I already have some ideas for some basic decorating, but I'll be anxious to see what DW's cribs will look like to see how that will influence the room. We're planning to work with the colors in the quilts my mom made - bright pastels. I think we'll stripe the bottom half of the room with yellow and green and then toss some lavender polka dots on the top half. That way, it will be easy to adjust a bit when it's time to sell the house. I anticipate that we'll be feeling mighty cramped mighty soon.

Poor DW's weekend plans for fishing in Central MN were squashed just this morning, so I wonder how he'll adjust his plans. Maybe he'll work on cribs, or maybe he'll just catch up on sleep. Either way, I feel bad for him, but at the same time, I'm glad I won't have to be lonesome for him.

Well, happy weekend wishes, friends! Be sure to thank your mother for giving you life.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Even More Great News!

I just got off the phone with the neonatologist and she gave me an awesome report. She asked if we come from spiritual families, and I said yes, then asked what prompted the question. She replied that the rate of improvement for our daughters is just amazing - that there must be a lot of prayers that are helping them along. She talked about how she knows what medicine is capable of doing, and there's no way our kiddos should be doing so well considering all they've gone through. The odds say they should have not made it at all. Her only explanation is that this is the true power of prayer. My eyes immediately welled up.

She encouraged me to find out how many people have been praying for our little miracles. She suggested that their story has probably gone further than just our immediate little circle of friends. So I'm putting the call out to you, kind readers. Please email me and let me know who has been praying. I'm now feeling nosy about this all.

Have you sent out an email request? Have you turned folks onto my blog? Have you put the babies on prayer chains or parish intentions? If not, would you please? While these babies are doing remarkably well, we still have a very long road ahead. They're likely going to need all kinds of extra help these first few years, from dietitians, speech therapists, physical therapists....

Today, both girls are on room air 100% and doing great! Breanna has started eating from a bottle and the hole in her heart has healed shut. No signs of any murmurs. We'll get to start kangaroo care tonight, and nursing probably tomorrow. Alleluia!

Lillian will go up to full feedings tomorrow and have her supplemental IV removed. We'll get to start nursing twice a day. Woo hoo!

The doc said that we should expect to see some significant weight gain next week, and that's great!

I have the all clear to start driving tomorrow, so the timing is just right in terms of getting up to the NICU to see them. Thank you, from all of us in our family of four, for the continued prayers and support. Please keep it up - it really is making a difference!

Deep Breaths of Fresh Air

More good news, friends!

When DW and I went into the NICU to visit Breanna and Lillian yesterday, the nurses let us know that both girls are making even more steps toward life at home.

Breanna is completely off the CPAP now and is breathing on her own. Her oxygen saturation rates are looking really good. She just has one cord running into her tummy for feeding, and once that's gone, she'll be able to be held. Also, no one hears the heart murmur now. Yay! The prayers are paying off - no talk of heart surgery at all any more.

Lillian is also doing well. She's gained a third of an ounce (hard to believe they can measure that small!) and is continuing to enjoy eating.

Both girls have learned the art of filling their pants - already! - but that's a good sign that all is working well on their insides.

Here's a photo of Breanna when she was still hooked up to all the junk. We tried to get a few pictures last night, but it was too dark and we didn't want to wake her. See how red she was at first?

And here's a photo of little Lillian cuddling with mom. What a little peanut!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Continuing Progress!

To our wonderful friends and family, thank you so very much for your continued prayers. It's truly making a difference in our daughters' lives.

Breanna and Lillian are making progress each day and it is just wonderful to see what a difference each small step makes!

Breanna was taken off the ventilator fully yesterday and put back on the CPAP machine. She is also off the blue billie lights, with no signs of jaundice left. She has started eating the milk that I've been bringing in and is growing. As of last night, she was 5 lbs. on the nose. Once she's done with the CPAP machine, we'll be able to take her out and start kangaroo care and eventually start nursing her. Yay! She does still have a slight heart murmur, but the respiratory therapists said last night that it's probably innocent and there's been no more talk of heart surgery. They'll do more monitoring and testing in the days to come.

Lillian is just thriving in every way. She's eating more and more; her food intake is being increased every 12 hours and she nurses like a natural. I get to nurse her once a day and it is such a rewarding experience! She's still a little peanut, only weighing 2 lbs., 14 oz., but we should start seeing some growth soon, with all that she's taking in.

DW and I are doing quite well. I'm feeling better and better each day. Poor DW has gone back to work and is feeling the pull to spend more time at the NICU. But, we can go at all hours, so when we showed up after 10:00 the last two nights to tuck in our girls, the nurses just smiled.

My Bell's Palsy is slowly going away. It seems like it's taking forever, but I am seeing more and more progress each day, so I can't complain too much. My eye is still not blinking on its own, though, so I'm still often wearing a patch, which drives me a little nuts.

We attended a baptism class at our new church last night and that went well.

Best wishes to you all for a beautiful week ahead! Watch for pictures later this week.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Quick Update on Our Progress

My heart is pounding right now, overwhelmed with joy and love! I just finished up with a terrific visit to the NICU. Both of our daughters are doing quite well. We still have a long road ahead, but we're seeing definite progress already.

Breanna is slowly being weaned off the ventilator and is looking great! Her color is so much better than before and her breathing is slowing down. She's learning to relax! I'll get to bathe her tomorrow and I'm so looking forward to that! She does have a hole in her heart, which the doctors say is common with preemies. Please pray for it to close on its own as she grows bigger so that she doesn't need heart surgery.

Lillian and I just had a wonderful personal visit. We did kangaroo care, which is when the baby is put on the parent's chest, skin to skin. She was very calm and went for my breast. She suckled a little bit and tomorrow we're going to start officially nursing. After she went back into her little bed, she slept so very calmly. It was great for both of us. (This is the first time I've been able to hold her and it felt so good!) She's totally doing everything on her own and is absolutely thriving. She just needs to keep growing some more and then we'll be able to go home.

My DW has been just amazing through all of this! I have fallen so much more deeply in love than I ever thought possible. He is so strong, so supportive, and so very loving. He's going to sleep at home tonight so he can be rested up for taking me home tomorrow. He's been getting run down with all of this, and I hope he gets some really good rest so he can enjoy his birthday tomorrow. He has a friend who had twins last spring and spent a long time in the NICU. That dad came up to visit today and put DW's mind at ease a little more.

As for me, I am here at the hospital for an extra day and it's done me a world of good. My folks came up today and my dad finally got to meet his first grandbabies. It was so nice to see them!We added another blood pressure medication today and that has helped my numbers a lot. And, I'm going back on the narcotic for my Bell's Palsy pain. My nerves are regenerating - which is great - but extremely painful. I can even feel the tingling in my hair follicles - it's so strange! Here I was thinking my C-section pain would be the killer, but that's been a piece of cake. That is strange, as well! I look forward to being home tomorrow to rest, but not to having to get in the car to come to the NICU instead of just walking down the hallway.

I'll have my DW upload some photos on our computer at home tomorrow so I can post some pictures of our girls.

Thank you all for your prayers and support. I know that those prayers have made a huge difference for all of us. Please continue to pray for our girls' health and comfort. And please pray that my eye will get back to normal soon so that I can see what I'm doing again.

Best wishes for a wonderful rest of your weekend!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Family of Four

Hi, Everyone!

I'm writing with the amazing news of two new family members. Breanna Claire was born at 3:56 yesterday afternoon, weighing in at 4 lbs., 10 oz. Just three minutes later, Lillian Rose arrived weighing 2 lbs., 14 oz.

We all are doing ok, though we'll be here in the hospital for a while. Please keep us in your prayers.

It turns out that little Breanna and Lillian were sharing a condition that sometimes happens with twins, called Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. Both were sharing the same blood and food supply, and with this condition, one usually takes more than the other. In this case, because of her positioning, Breanna was getting more than what she needed and Lillian was having to fight for her share. That's why there's such a big size difference between the two.

Breanna came out screaming like crazy - hollering even before she was all the way out of me. She looks much bigger than we expected. She was bright red and full of blood - too much blood. She had a transfusion this morning and the doctors are slowly thinning her blood out to get her to a better level. Because she's a month premature, her lungs are struggling a bit, so she's been placed on a ventilator. She was really working hard to breathe once she came out - even into the evening. Now, she's relaxed and not having to work so much. But, she still has a long road ahead in the ICU. Besides the breathing and blood stuff, she's doing great. She's beautiful, with lots of hair and pretty, sparkly eyes.

Lillian is just a little peanut. Teeny! But doing wonderfully well! She's a drama queen right from the start. Before the docs had her out, all they could see were her feet poking against the sac. When they touched her feet, she wiggled her toes at them, giving a thrill to all the operating crew. She came out small and anemic, but otherwise just great! She had a blood transfusion right off the bat and that's all it took. As my mom says, she's a scrapper. And really, she is doing so well! She ate her first teaspoon of food today and was looking for more already - yay! When I talk, her eyes fly open and she looks for me. There's nothing more wonderful than that!

Both girls are in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and will likely be here for the duration of the month.

As for me, I'm doing pretty well. I was diagnosed with preemclampsia on Monday night, which was one of the factors that pushed us to deliver when we did. It can be quite harmful to both the babies and the mother, and really quick. So, the decision was easy for us to make. My blood pressure is still high, and we started medicating for that today. Hopefully, we'll get it regulated soon. If we can get that under control, I'll be discharged on Saturday. Other than the high BP, I feel terrific - this is way easier than back surgery.

Emotionally, this has been quite a ride. I am quite certain that my DW is the greatest husband in the world, and am so blessed to be sharing this experience with him. He's a natural dad already and is sweeter than sweet.

While it's been heartbreaking to see those itty bitty daughters of ours and not be able to hold them, it's also been SO heartwarming to see what little miracles they are. We have been blessed so richly. We continue to pray in thanks to the Lord for bringing Breanna and Lillian into our lives, and for good strength and health for our babies. We ask you to please continue to pray for all of us, as well.

Friends and family are most certainly welcome, so please feel free to stay in touch. We're at MeritCare in downtown Fargo, and have been most pleased with our visit here. The staff is top notch and I know we couldn't be in better hands.

With love,
Our new family of four

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Babies Today!!!

This is the husband writing.

Well last night we found out that the babies are going to be coming later today and that we are going to have an emergency c-section. Pre-eclampsia plus some other complications with the babies have put us into critical mode. Remember to keep us and the babies in your prayers and the babies too please!

There will be an update when the babies are born.

Monday, May 01, 2006

To the hospital I go...

Well, folks, this may be it. I don't seriously think that babies are coming in the immediate future, but I am going to the hospital for at least tonight. My doctor just called (and didn't have a nurse do it!) and let me know that I need to be admitted tonight because of my blood pressure. So, if anyone needs anything from me (ha!), I'll be at MeritCare downtown, probably relaxing with my feet up, trying to find stuff to keep me occupied. Call any time - 701-234-2000.

Rainy May Day

It's hard to believe it's only been two years since I realized I was head-over-heels in love with my DW. When we were newly dating, he surprised me with a middle-of-the-night May basket that made a mushy puddle out of me.

May Day of 2004 was going to be a busy day for me - I was helping host an open house at my favorite bed and breakfast in Brandon, MN (the Lake Country Motel - try it out - it's wonderful!). As the Tastefully Simple consultant, I was providing all the refreshments. So the night before, my friend, Lettuce, stopped in to help me prepare up a storm. We had a lot of work to do.

At 2 am or so, with my hands full of cheeseballs, my doorbell rang. Of course, I lept right out of my skin. By the time I got to my foyer, my heart was pounding and I was wondering if I should call the police or just open the door. Aah - why didn't I insist on a front door with a peep hole? I bravely opened the door just in time to catch a glimpse of my DW's feet leaping into his truck. His tires squealed as he raced out of my cul-de-sac. Grinning like a spray paint huffer, I nearly tripped over the May basket that sat on my welcome mat.

It was overflowing with yellow daisies, caramel-filled Hershey kisses, and a sweet little May Day note. I knew I had to marry that man after that display. I tried calling him, but he must have shut off his phone and gone home to bed, so I didn't get to thank him until after we returned from the open house the next day.

My heart is pounding just a bit, simply from remembering how amazing DW's gesture made me feel.

Now two years later, happily married and expecting babies, I am still gaga for him. Though I don't anticipate an actual May basket today, he has been particularly sweet as he's played chauffeur, taking me to a meeting this morning and then to our ultrasound.

Both babies scored 8 out of 8 on their BPPs again, so that's wonderful! They were both active and looking great! We got to see wonderful 4-D images of their faces, and boy, they are amazing, beautiful little people already! The U/S tech couldn't tell us if there was one placenta or two, but really, at this point, who cares?

After the BPP, we stopped in at the OB dept. for a blood pressure check, and unfortunately, my blood pressure is the highest it's been all pregnancy. Our doctor is in surgery today, so we're expecting a call from her sometime later this afternoon. I suspect she'll either put me on a prescription and strict bedrest or admit me. We'll just have to wait and see. Here we go with my favorite part of any day - hurry up and wait.